A Series Of Unfortunate Events: An Interview with Cold In Berlin

By on 27 March 2012

Bedecked in black and dripping with post-punk venom, Cold In Berlin are certainly no strangers to the dark side, having been dealt an exceptionally unlucky hand of late. But, with second album ‘And Yet’ in the can and a string of electrifying live dates on the cards, 2012 marks a groundbreaking end to the Londoners’ painfully prolonged winter of discontent. Dominion checks in with dynamic duo Maya and Adam. Words by Faye Coulman, photo by Unholy Racket.

Well for us, life is one long series of unfortunate events,” laughs Siouxsie-esque banshee and Cold In Berlin co-founder Maya on a suitably paralysing evening in late February. Tucked away in trendy Soho hangout The Social, the civilised scene at hand finds these notoriously rowdy rockers unexpectedly serene and polite to a fault in person. But, being altogether better known for a ferocious stage presence that’s already sparked comparisons to the legendary likes of The Cult, it’s the quartet’s edgy new sound that, above all else, speaks volumes for their enormous recent progress. Forging ahead in the face of countless trials and mishaps, the uncanny streak of bad luck that blighted the making of ‘And Yet’ only sharpened CIB’s steely determination and hunger for success. From the cancellation of an entire German tour to shoestring budgets and the repossession of their former recording studio, these seemingly damaging events supplied the band with no shortage of angsty inspiration.

In the thick of these many and varied misfortunates last year, the four-piece reflected, “Something weird was happening; like an elite covert team had been assigned to completely ruin our lives. And yet we carry on. This is our plight, like some sick form of penance, martyrdom and masochism, we deserve it. We are writing some f**king dark tunes right now.”

Unbearable as it may have been, it’s precisely this ongoing battle that Maya pinpoints as the essence of the intriguingly titled ‘And Yet.’ “I like the idea of the pause in that title,” the singer smiles. “Darkness comes but you keep going, you’re still there. Terrible things happen and yet you keep going, keep trying. For me, a lot of the album was about looking back and that kind of reflection.”

It’s really not a sense of hopelessness,” guitarist Adam hastens to add. “It may be a dark album but it’s not hopeless. Even when we say, ‘There’s no hope left.’ What happened to us is pretty much the average amount of sh** that happens to young bands trying to tour the country.”

Forming a tantalising taste of things to come, newly released single ‘…And The Darkness Bangs’ sees Cold In Berlin finally reaping the rewards of these long and painstaking labours. Guided by the Depeche Mode-approved studio expertise of James Aparicio, the smouldering, reverb-laden rock contained within marks an altogether sharper step on from 2010 debut ‘Give Me Walls.’ From the title track’s duskily atmospheric riffage to the rampaging, punk-tinged fury of ‘The Lie,’ this is the unmistakable product of an ambitious creative process that Adam readily admits the band “agonised and took great care over.” With singer Maya having also pushed her steel-lunged talents far beyond the boundaries of ‘Give Me Walls,’ perhaps the greatest of these recent advancements is that of her own enormous progression as a frontwoman. Having stirred up numerous comparisons to goth icon Siouxsie Sioux on the release of their debut, Maya is now eager to point out that, with the advent of ‘…And The Darkness Bangs,’ her voice has since dramatically evolved. “It is an easy comparison,” the singer observes. “I have a loud strong voice, I like dark makeup, I wear black clothes and the performance is quite dramatic.”

That comparison came about through the first album,” Adam explains. “So it’ll be interesting to hear who they’ll be comparing Maya to when they hear the next album ’cos the second record is certainly a step on from her early punk roots and indeed our early punk roots.”

But however much Cold In Berlin’s sound may have progressed in recent years, the rebellious spark that first ignited the band continues to burn bright. Established by Maya and Adam as a humble student band in the pre-credit crunch days of the Blair years, the dramatically darker times the duo find themselves in today have forever transformed this ever-evolving rock troupe.

Adam recalls, “Maya and I formed the band back at a time when nobody really had anything to rebel against at all, and we were so dissatisfied we started up our own club night which was a pretty pathetic gesture, come to think of it. But in a way, the band was all about breaking apathy and trying to do something creative, and now five years later we find ourselves in London, the world has inexorably changed and I guess we’ve got a lot more to write about.”

Unlike you, though, I didn’t see that there was nothing to rebel against,” Maya disagrees before concluding in typically quotable, razor-sharp style, “I think if you’re born with a rebellious spirit and you question everything throughout your time on earth, that stays with you your entire life.”

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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